tv The Reid Report MSNBC December 4, 2014 11:00am-12:01pm PST
rather than pulling us apart. we are at our best when we rise to what the moment demands. >> and civil rights leaders have announced a plan for march and summit and race for justice in washington later this month. >> it will be around a specific and clear step by step what we want to see the justice department do and what we want to achieve. >> the urgency of the moment is a re-awakening about the cause of justice in this nation. >> live outside the store where eric garner died. and what is the mood in staten island today? >> kind of spilling over from last night when word of the announcement kind of spread through this community. there's not so much shock as many people around the city and around the country have expressed in different ways. there's kind of this deep exhale
of sadness. many say that it feels that there are two systems at work here. one for some of america and one system for the rest of the folks here. but this morning, eric garner's mother came to this site where her son died and said she was thankful for all of the support that people have been showing from across the city and across the country. but also, the department of justice investigation underway. that she hopes there may be some sort of justice in this afterall. or at least there'd be a fair and thorough investigation on the part of the federal government. so as the entire city is kind of erupting in all of these protests calling for justice for eric garner and so many other black men who have lost their lives at the hands of police, it's kind of a wait and see. how do we pivot from this moment? how do they organize on behalf of so many of those folks they're calling for justice for? >> all right. in staten island, thank you very much. >> thank you. eric garner's widow, meanwhile, is rather heartily
rejecting the condolences. >> no, i don't accept his apology. i could care less about his condolences. he's still working, still getting a paycheck, feeding hi kids, and my husband is 6 feet under, and i'm looking for a way to feed my kids now. >> for more on the family's reaction, i'm joined now by bishop victor brown who is the family's pastor. and thank you very much for being here. >> i'm grateful to be here. >> i'm sorry. >> just as a point of clarity. i'm one of the spiritual advisers to the gardner family. >> okay. thank you very much for that clarification. obviously we just saw eric garner's widow and that raw emotion she's still feeling. >> yes. >> has the family been to your knowledge in communication with either the police department or the prosecutor's office in regards to the way this case played out? >> well, the police department has been very, very dutiful by way of showing both their concern and also having made
available to the family. >> and what about the prosecutor's office. was there any communication from the family from them? >> i'm not certain to the best of my knowledge if that has happened at this point. >> and in terms of both the family and more broadly, your constituents, do people expect a federal investigation would yield different results? >> yes, by all means. all of us are surprised that there was no indictment. we really did feel that given the fact that the videotape was so graphic that the coroner's report was conclusive by way of homicide. we thought there would be some indictment passed down. >> and what does it say to you there was an indictment passed down, but it was against the person who videotaped what ended up being the death of eric garner? >> there's a major campaign for justice underway. and i'm very, very pleased that both new yorkers and people across the land have obeyed the
instructions of the family. and that is to protest but keep it nonviolent. and i'm very proud of new yorkers. there's much anger in the air. but we are committed to a dignified campaign. and from day one, the family has set the tone. she has stood up and said that violence will not bring her son back. and many of us as community leaders have been echoing her sentiments. and i'm very pleased that many people are adhering to that tone she has set. >> if you look at the protests, what people across the country are saying. and i don't think they're really raising a question of whether or not protests will be violent or nonviolent. they're a unified call for a system people see as just. >> yes. >> does the family trust the judicial system? >> i believe that they -- that they believe that they will get justice on a federal level. and we're so grateful last night to hear that eric holder has
taken up that baton. and we do believe that justice is going to take place. >> does that imply they do not trust the state judicial system? >> well, i think the proof is in the pudding. the proof is in the pudding. i mean, again, all over the nation. people are just amaze d there ws not a decision to indict that one forward. they're going to talk about the police department, retraining, et cetera. in your opinion, is that what's called for here? if there's no fundamental trust in the state judicial system, is retraining officers enough? >> that's just part of the equation. i think the other thing that needs to happen is that there needs to be a special prosecutor that is appointed for situations like this that involve police officers. i think there's an inherent conflict of interest. when you have a local d.a. who is expected to bring a case
against a police officer when there's ongoing relationship between the d.a.'s office and the police. it's a conflict of interest. >> later this month, including national action network are calling for that march. what are your thoughts on that? >> i think it's much needed. and i appreciatively applaud reverend sharpton and others for doing this. i think that what is needed at this point is a change and reform in policing across this nation. i've gone on record as saying that this campaign for justice is not about a blanket repudiation against the police department. new york has one of the best police departments in the land. but it's about a method of policing that has gone unchecked for too long. and i think now it raises to the level of national level where it needs to be challenged. >> all right. bishop victor brown united
christian church, thank you for being here. >> i appreciate being here. >> thank you. we are also following the breaking news out of cleveland. where attorney general eric holder addressed major changes for the city's police department following a number of high-profile incidents involving use of force by police. >> there is reasonable cause to believe that the cleveland division of public police engages in a pattern and practice of using excessive force. and as a result of systemic deficiencies, including sufficient accountability, inadequate training and equipment, ineffective policies and inadequate engagement in the community. >> let's bring in nbc's justice department pete williams. okay, pete, we heard that phrase pattern and practice of what he has termed to be essentially abusive behavior by the police. what does that mean? and what would that mean for the cleveland police department? >> well, it's a phrase in federal law. and what it means is there's a violation of civil rights laws because of this pattern and practice. the justice department's been investigating after complaints were made over a year and a half
ago about the use of force by the cleveland police department. and here's what the justice department investigation concluded. they said there was a pattern of police using unnecessary and excessive deadly force, including shootings and head strikes with weapons. unnecessary excessive use of less than lethal force, including tasers, things like tear gas, chemical sprays and fists. the use of unnecessary force against people who were mentally ill or otherwise in a crisis. and using tactics that put police officers in situations where things would escalate and unnecessary force became inevitable. the city and the justice department have signed an agreement. there will be an independent monitor appointed who will look at reforms that the cleveland police department has promised to make. >> and that would be sort of the kind of consent decree we've seen in other cities. is it a similar sort of practice where it's not a take over the police department, it's an agreement? >> exactly right. and the justice department's been doing a number of these in the past couple of years.
much more aggressive at this than the previous justice departments. and the -- there's a similar investigation going on in ferguson, missouri. and that one may also likely lead to some of these same kinds of changes. >> all right. let's take a little bit of a turn now. let's talk about the grand jury investigation, or at least the grand jury result in the case of eric garner. we have loretta lynch taking a role in potentially a federal investigation. talk a little bit about that and the implications, potentially, because she is the person that the president would like to nominate as the next attorney general. >> he has said he'll nominate her to be the next attorney general. she is the u.s. attorney for brooklyn, staten island is part of her jurisdiction. she'll be very much in charge of this investigation. and it's already started. she was on capitol hill today meeting with senators as she does the sort of meet and greets that are done by nominees. but she'll be very, very much in charge. she's already heavily involved in this.
it won't be exactly a standing start because the federal government has been watching what the state grand jury has been doing. interestingly here, the prosecutor today in new york said he was going to release a sort of summary of what happened before the grand jury. but not the kind of detail that came out in ferguson of who said what. i don't know why that is. my guess would be that i would be very surprised that the federal government didn't ask the state not to release everything. because i don't think the federal prosecutors will want their potential witnesses if this does go to a grand jury, a federal grand jury. they don't want their potential witnesses knowing what everybody else has already said. >> right. and we are just learning that summary was, in fact, just relea released, nbc's pete williams. thank you very much. >> you bet. >> to the tiny town of utahville, south carolina.
refus the town's police chief was charged with murder. according to this daily news article, this is the third officer in south carolina to be charged this year for an on-duty shooting. and coming up, missouri's attorney general says that part of the state's law governing the use of deadly force conflicts with supreme court precedent. i'll talk to my colleague and the host of "the last word" with lawrence o'donnell who actually spotted that error in the grand jury presentation about what a change in the law could mean for future cases involving police use of deadly force. but first, is the system that many say failed eric garner, michael brown and countless others beyond repair? we'll ask a former police chief when we come back. (vo) nourished. rescued. protected. given new hope. during the subaru "share the love" event, subaru owners feel it, too. because when you take home a new subaru, we donate 250 dollars to helping those in need.
and william bratten on the killing of eric garner. they will talk about steps the city is taking to retrain office officers. as critics nationwide demand strong federal action in the wake of the recent killings. norm stamper is the former police chief of seattle, also the author of the book "breaking rank" a top cop's expose of a dark side of american policing. norm, thank you very much for being here. >> my pleasure. >> one of the things that has come up in the wake of both the michael brown case and now the eric garner case and you can also throw in the tamir rice case. seems to be a tone deafness. when these shootings happen. how they respond to the public. and i want to draw your attention to a deleted facebook page. the article wasn't commenting on the case of michael brown which took place in st. louis county,
it was commenting on tamir rice. the 12-year-old boy killed within seconds of a cleveland police officer getting out of his car to confront the young man. he had a pellet gun with him. and there was a deleted tweet that said kids will be kids on november 22nd, 2014, a cleveland police officer shot tamir rice and goes on to talk about the fact that kids should not play with these kinds of air guns and that parents should make sure they don't do it. it did seem to be very insensitive to people because it was commenting on the behavior of the child and of the parents and not the police. is there a difficulty that police departments have in seeing themselves in the way that the public sees them? >> well, that tone deafness that you're talking about, this inability to see themselves as the public sees our police officers is predictable. and it'll happen again and again and again and the police will
defend their officers without really taking the time and effort to understand why millions of americans are unhappy with policing in this country. i think it is fundamentally structural. i believe that replacing the existing system rather than tweak i tweaking is essential. >> replacing it with what? what would a new system look like? and how would that practically be done? >> people wonder with the advent of the drug war and homeland security concerns after 9/11, we're all about police militarization. that's been going on for decades. it's received a boost in federal assistance to local law enforcement. assistance that needs to be questioned. but i think we need to understand that replacing the existing paramilitary system with a more humanistic system
with a more compassionate system is possible. i'm not suggesting it's in any way easy, quite the contrary. >> one of the ways you get to the overmilitarized police force, but increasingly small time crime, this small time crime focus of a lot of departments. i want you to listen to what senator rand paul had to say to chris matthews on "hardball" on wednesday about the eric garner case in new york and the kind of crime he was being confronted by half dozen officers for. take a listen. >> some politician put a tax of $5.85 on a pack of cigarettes so that driven cigarettes underground by making them so expensive, but then some politician also had to direct the police to say, hey, we want you arresting people for selling a loose cigarette. and for someone to die over, you know, breaking that law, there really is no excuse for it. but i do blame the politicians.
we put our police in a difficult situation with bad laws. >> without getting into the arguments over the cigarette tax, which i personally think is a good idea, but without getting into that debate, do you feel that policing these kind of broken windows crimes and police using the same kind of force they would with these broken windows crimes they would for say, you know, a much more serious crime. is that part of the problem? that police are being asked to police petty crimes with the same kind of lethal force? >> well, it certainly is one of the problems. but i would submit this. whether you're talking about someone who is engaged in very low level, nonviolent, nonthreatening criminal offenses or even misdemeanor infractions, or you're confronting an armed fugitive who said i'm going to kill the next cop who stops me, police officers do not discriminate when it comes to their own safety. and they see threats where in my view in many cases, there is no threat. eric garner posed nothing but
massive resistance. keep your hands off me. don't touch me. when he, in fact, was confronted. >> yeah. >> there's another problem creeping into the culture of policing, has been for some time. and that is fear. police officers in my judgment, particularly white police officers are excessively and disproportionately afraid. it's not a socially acceptable emotion in the police culture. but they're afraid of young black men. and the bigger the black man, the darker the skin of the black man, the more easy it is for police officers to dehumanize that individual and to compensate for their fear. and more often than not -- i don't want to sound like an armchair psychologist, but i was a cop for 34 years, and i've seen this over and over and over. they will -- their number one priority is to make it home at the end of shift. >> right.
everybody can understand basic safety, personal officer safety, but we need to understand that when police officers put on that badge and swear to uphold the constitution and provide public safety services, they are inevitably taking on a certain risk. and i think they've in many cases blown well out of proportion the risks to their own safety. >> yeah. and just to put together a couple of things you've said. i think a lot of people would very much agree with you. but also the fact that police have so much broad power, lethal power, and equipment in some cases. there also was a certain level of emotional maturity that people would hope would be a standard and a qualification to be a police officer. but in some cases, that doesn't seem to be the case. i want to talk about the police officer who killed tamir rice, an unarmed little boy playing with a pellet gun. and this is what people have
discovered at cleveland.com, the report at cleveland.com found out about the shooter. it's a bit long. november 29, 2012 letter contained in tim loehmann's personnel file from the police department says during firearms qualification training, he was distracted and weepy. he could not follow simple directions, could not communicate clear thoughts nor recollections. and his hands on performance was dismal. according to the letter written by deputy chief jim pollock of the independence police, the letter recommended that the department part ways with loehmann who went on to become a police officer with the cleveland division of police. i do not believe time nor training will be able to change or correct the deficiency said pollock. first of all, how does a police officer like that end up not only being able to become a police officer anyway in a different jurisdiction, but be the guy rather than the veteran next to him, the guy that gets to jump out of the car and confront tamir rice? >> that's a crucial question. i don't know the answer to that. how did he become a police
officer? what i do know is given his behavior at the police pistol range and a deputy chief's assessment of that behavior, that guy should not have been a police officer. you need to have a strong emotional constitution, personal maturity, self-discipline, kind of confidence that's necessary to protect, not only yourself but the people you've been hired to serve. and where we see evidence of the lack of those qualities on the part of a recruit police officer undergoing his academy training, it is time to part company with that individual. >> all right. norm stamper, thank you very much. >> my pleasure. >> we'll be right back. you park your car. as you walk away, crunch! a garbage truck backs into it. so,you call your insurance company, looking for a little support. what you get is a game of a thousand questions.
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blasio. mayor de blasio speaking now. let's listen. >> there are only 80 arrests last night, the vast majority of those on minor charges. and as an example of how this city respects people's rights, respects their right to raise their voices understands that's what makes this a democracy. we're proud of how we respect protests. we think this is the right way to do things. we will not tolerate, like we said yesterday, we will not tolerate violence or disorder. but we think by showing respect for the democratic process, it's one of the right ways of setting a tone that keeps the protests peaceful. i emphasize that the garner family has spoken powerfully on the need to keep the peace. michael brown's family has spoken powerfully on this point. the message from the people who are hurting the most is that
violence will do no good. it will only set back the cause of reform. i think a lot of people last night heard that message loud and clear and comported themselves appropriately. but i do ask everyone, all new yorkers, all of our visitors in this town to respect the memory of eric garner, michael brown, to respect their families by expressing yourself only in peaceful means. you're going to hear in a few minutes from the commissioner and key members of his team. i'd like to acknowledge some others and thank them for their extraordinary efforts, particularly in the last 24 hours. i want to thank our chief of department, jimmy o'neill who i think did a fantastic job managing the situation last night. also the commanding officer of the academy. the executive officer for the
academy. you'll hear from the commissioner, first deputy commissioner in just a few minutes. so a lot of people, as i said yesterday, felt a lot of pain, a lot of frustration. my message to the people is take that pain and frustration and work for change. the relationship between police and community has to change. the way we go about policing has to change. has to change in the city, has to change in the country. i am fundamentally convinced it will change. people who feel aggrieved are asking for something simple. they're asking for the notion of a society in which everyone is treated equally. it's a fundamental american value. people want to believe in their core that they'll be treated
like their neighbor or like someone in a totally different neighborhood. regardless of the color of the skin or what religion they are or what they look like, they will be treated the same. that is what people deeply desire. they want to know that they'll be safe. they want to know that they will be respected in the encounter with police. all of us have such respect for the work our police do. it's a basis, again, of a democratic society that our police keep order and allow a democratic society to function. and everyone needs to know that they'll be treated the same regardless of who they are. that's what we aspire to. they need to know in doing this crucial work, our police will always, with every fiber of
their beings avoid any needless injury and god forbid avoid any death that could have been stopped. people need to know that. they need to feel that. that's part of what we have to reach. people need to know that black lives and brown lives matter as much as white lives. it's what we still have to aspire to. i said it yesterday, i believe it. this is not just a problem in new york city. it's an american problem, an american challenge. it's an issue that goes back to the founding this republic that we still haven't resolved. our generation has to resolve it. the leaders you see around me. we are all responsible now, the weight of history can't be our excuse. and i've said that i feel these issues very, very personally. something that's a powerful current running through our
family. and in the stories that i've heard from members of my family, from previous generations and the challenges we face as parents. this is personal. we can see through the eyes of so many of our fellow new yorkers. and all we want, all of us together is to know that everyone would be kept safe. that's what it comes down to. and particularly that our young people who are learning life's lessons will be safe while they go through that process of maturing. it's what every parent yearns for is that their children get to go through their childhood and learn lessons they need and be ready for the world up ahead. god forbid we lose any child before they complete that journey. before they're equipped with the tools to live. so many people were grieved
yesterday. i made clear my message to them. yesterday was one chapter. there are other chapters ahead. you'll hear about this more today. i mentioned last night, a call i received from the attorney general of the united states, emphasizing that the u.s. attorney's process in this case would move expeditiously and independently. you'll hear more from commissioner bratton about the nypd's own investigation in this matter, which i know will be thorough and fair. but through all the pain and the frustration, i will keep saying what i know to be true. reform is happening here in new york city, it is happening already, before our very eyes, tangib tangibly, meaningfully, and it's
only just begun. there's much more ahead. i have used the example of the decision by commissioner bratten for a full retraining of the police force after the death of eric garner. this is not the decision of a typical leader. this is the decision of an extraordinary leader. this commissioner understood that something had to be addressed fundamentally. and the training that's going to happen here in this building will change the future of this city. it will have not just an impact on thousands of people. it will have an impact on millions of people. because every interaction that every officer has with their fellow new yorkers after they are trained again will be different. and that will multiply many times over for years and years to come. and a whole new generation of officers will be trained with a new approach.
it's something we've never seen before. and i understand anyone who is doubtful about change, anyone who is cynical about our democratic process. but i also would say that history teaches us that many times change is real. something that started by people of good faith and visionary leaders like our commissioner takes hold and multiplies. and changes people's lives. we have a lot of evidence of that through history. one of the focal points here at the academy will be changing how our officers talk with residents of the city, changing how they listen. slowing down some interactions that sometimes escalate too quickly. giving officers a chance to back up and supervision comes.
deescalating, using less force whenever possible. these are fundamental lessons that will be taught here. and even in the brief example i saw earlier, you could see the power of an experienced instructor helping officers to realize there's some better ways to do things. you'll hear from first deputy commissioner ben tucker. until his promotion last month, ben was the architect of a lot of the training efforts you're seeing here and also the curriculum of the academy for new recruits. he'll continue to lead those efforts and make sure that his new training produces the changes we need. and you'll hear from him in a moment. and i think as a man who grew up in this city and chose this profession early on in his life, ben can talk to you about what it means to change the training
and talk to you about it from both the viewpoint of the police and from the viewpoint of the community. and how foundational a change in training is to everything that comes thereafter. commissioner will also talk about the ongoing work that he does to bring in community leaders and listen to what they suggest. this is another hallmark of this commissioner. we first started working together. i often had the experience. i'd call him, be in the middle of a meeting, he'd call me back say he was meeting with one group of community leaders, another group of faith leaders. he was always seeking out people who had concerns. both to explain to him his vision for change but also to find out what they knew to make them a part of the process. and we will deepen that in terms of training through a community advisory board that will help bring the voices of communities into the training process.
and, again, commissioner bratton will speak to that in a moment. the retraining, one of the most foundational things we can do, it will create a momentum for change on top of the change in the stop and frisk policy, on top of the change and the marijuana arrest policy, on top of the changes we've made with the ccrb and the inspector general. on top of the new effort to pilot body cameras. if we're serious about change, we understand it can only be achieved with the people we serve. and we understand that change requires many elements. what i'm describing to you is a series of reforms that all work together that synergize. and we're moving each of them
aggressively and energetically. i said last year that we have to achieve this mission. i am more convinced than ever. even in this difficult moment, i'm more convinced than ever we will achieve this mission. i'm convinced we have the talent and the leadership. we have the will, we have the tools. we have the will of the people urging us on. and i've said this to many people who have felt unheard. that they should recognize how much their voices mattered in these last months and last years. these changes are happening because the people demanded it. and that should be a reason for people to have faith, process of democracy. with the help of everyday new yorkers, with the close partnership of all the members of this department, we will get there. want to say a few words in
spanish before i introduce the commissioner. [ speaking spanish ] >> okay. we are listening to bill de blasio in a press conference. he's now doing his remarks in spanish. bill bratton will also be speaking. before i say anything else, b lawrence, i want to get your response. lawrence o'donnell. your reaction. >> joy, you know, i've never been a fan of bill de blasio, the public speaker, but as i listen to him for the last couple of days. whatever else is said about his administration, i think there is no question that this is the mayor this city needed this week. he is striking all of the important notes here. and making some real points about what he's been learning at the police academy now about how they are training and
deescalating. he talked about that, talked about ways of using less force and basically teaching patients, which is something we've been talking about on my show a bit with law enforcement officers we've had on. because what you're seeing, what you see in the video is a completely unnecessary. because all you have to do is ask yourself. if they didn't do that, what is the worst thing that could've happened. >> right. >> what's the worst thing that could've happened? the guy who wasn't paying a sales tax on cigarettes. what would've happened? >> yeah. >> and all they had to do was wait. if they really wanted to arrest him for that, no reason to arrest him, give him a summons. if you want to arrest him for it, he's really big and you're concerned that's how it's going to work, wait for a lot more people to show up. >> yeah. >> one thing about that video which is under disgust, all the concentration on this one officer who does the choke hold. that alone, according to the medical examiner was not what killed eric garner. his breathing had to be stopped
when he was on the ground. look at that big guy with the number 99 on his back. watch what he's doing, the rest of them are doing when you see that video. that is a team effort in exti extinguishing the life out of the young man. >> we're listening to bill bratton now speaking. >> it'll be an encouragement to come back. i'd like to thank the mayor certainly for his generous comments, but extend those comments to the men and women of the department, the thousands of them that last night and again today and i'm sure again this evening have really, in the face of a lot of -- as the mayor has pointed out, anger and frustration have performed as we would expect them to perform professionally, even though a lot of the sentiments were directed against them while they were on those fence lines. they dealt with it, dealt with it professionally. as the mayor referenced, we had a total of 83 arrests last
evening. no significant acts of vandalism, no violence, and so the evening, which was intended first and foremost to check the tree lighting ceremony at rockefeller center, attracted so much international attention that went off very, very well so those watching from around the country and around the world were actually unaware of a lot of what was going on on the perimeters of that event. what i'd like to do today is expose you to some of the training that is being conducted in this academy, has been underway for a while and will expand dramatically in the months ahead where we will be training almost 22,000 police officers, retraining in a three-day course. the charts in back, charts outlining those three days of construction going on. two of the principal architects, ben tucker and his replacement
mike julian, both of them are going to briefly address you and identify what's going on here in the academy. in the course of these three days of training for officers in the department. and i think it's a fulfillment of a commitment that i made coming in as commissioner and the mayor embraced whole hea heartily. and the enhancement of skills so necessary to reach the commitment that we make to the community to police fairly, impartially and safely. so with that, if i could ask commissioner tucker to come up and fill you in on what's been going on here. and very exciting things that are happening here. >> thanks, commissioner. so the interesting times, and with respect to training, going well. we are with the academy involved in training changes and
initiative. and in terms of contrast, it's important to note that in the last 50 years, the training has taken place out of -- primarily out of 20th street, 235 east 20th street in manhattan here. and they've done -- our training staff have continued to do an extraordinary job in training our offices. this building that we're in right now is an extraordinary step forward. we have, those of you who may have seen the building, for those of you who have not, it is an opportunity to train our police officers in a very different way as the police commissioner and the mayor both indicated. and gives us an opportunity to make our officers more effective and raise the bar in the terms of training we've done.
we started in march. we've developed the partner officer program. for our officers, our recruits finishing the academy. our probation office is to establish some sort of felt presence, which is intended in the communities, intended to raise the level of community trust and confidence and collaboration. two important and essential pieces of that program, i want to mention. one is the assignment of senior partner officers. senior officers who would be the mentors for our new graduates as they are assigned to the new commands. there was a strong recognition we needed to have. those officers who recently leaving the academy who now are in their field assignments need
to get their sea legs. very practical approach. something we've not had in the department for quite some time. and we -- we've created, i think, a program that will go extremely well. the other essential point i would make with respect to the component. and that is our community partners program. >> all right. we are now listening to one of the commissioners describing some of the specifics of the new training that will be deployed for graduates of the police academy or one of the police academies in new york city. lawrence o'donnell is still here with me. and we heard from william bratton, the police commissioner. and he's been the police commissioner before under rudy giuliani, a different administration tonally in every way. >> he was first police commissioner of boston where he kind of grew up as a police officer from the same neighborhood i'm from.
then he becomes police commissioner here in new york and then in los angeles when that department was in a lot of trouble and needed public credibility. and now he's back here. no one has more experience in this field than he does. >> that is true. but no one has had more of an interesting ark. he's the architect of new york city policing, which it was a very different era. it was right after the era of crack cocaine and rampant crime in the city. crime is much, much lower now. can the same commissioner who architected the broken windows theory under which eric garner was accosted by police fix the system? >> well, the broken windows thing as you know started as an academic theory. and he was not the only practitioner, subscriber to it in law enforcement. most people were at the time. he was working under the giuliani administration, and basically he fired him and put what we now know to be a criminal in his place.
this is a great moment for bratton. and what you are watching with bill de blasio, he is publicly trying to pull bill bratton into his way of seeing this. that's what all that public praise of bill bratton was about there. and there's a very difficult position for bratton to negotiate. which so far in his career, he's negotiated very well. which is how does he still hold his position within police culture, which is an us versus them culture and them is everybody who isn't a cop. how does he maintain his position within that culture while disciplining people who get way out of line. and this is a situation with the videotape where i don't think bratton's going to have a lot of struggle with that. he reacted to it verbally the day after it happened saying it was a tragedy. you don't say it's a tragedy if you think that was good police work. >> yeah. >> so the challenge for him, though, is going to be the police union. police unions are, without question, the worst unions in the united states of america.
they run a protection racket for police officers in every department they represent. and they're running that racket for the police officers involved in this case now. and they have set up administrative hurdles through collective bargaining agreements that make it very difficult for the commissioner to exert his will on the outcome on discipline cases. this may be one where the commissioner just has to reach in and make that decision in the end no matter what the internal affairs investigation ends up kind of pointing to and, but bratton has done the homework he needs within the police culture. >> yeah. >> to have the credibility he needs with them if he acts against these officers. >> yeah, it's almost like he sort of has to be a secretary of defense, right, for the city of new york. and that's always the challenge to hold on to the loyalties. >> it is a -- it may be the single biggest moment in bill bratton's career. >> well, i know we are running
short on time. we wanted to commend you, first of all, for catching, but also switching gears to missouri. the situation with the prosecutor who gave wrong instructions to the jury in the michael brown grand jury case. what changes have come since you uncovered the fact they did misinstruct that jury? >> the attorney general basically said in response to us, this shows that you have to change the deadly force law in missouri, which is a law that predates, more than a 40-year-old law. predates the supreme court decision which changed the rules for all 50 states. now, you normally do not have to change your statute. what you do is simply incorporate case law into your law books, basically, which is what every state does everywhere. lawyers around the country i've talked to, they're stunned that any lawyer in a grand jury would ever present a law that has been
overturned by the supreme court without including, oh, by the way, here's how the supreme court limited that law. the attorney general is outraged by how that happened. we asked them, is this the first time you've ever given the grand jury the wrong law to deliberate over? and their answer, which they finally gave us was they -- they cannot answer that at this time. so they don't know, apparently, if to take them at their word. they don't know how many times they've given the wrong law to a grand jury there. i suspect this is the first. >> and i would suspect in a case not involving a police officer, it probably, well, i will not speculate on whether -- >> i will. i'll speculate. never. okay. that's the likelihood of this. i have not found a lawyer in america who has ever heard of this happening before in any judicial forum. >> all right. lawrence o'donnell. host of "the last word."
thank you very being here. and that wraps things up for the "reid report" and watch lawrence at 10:00 p.m. eastern here on msnbc. we'll be right back. fail to stay on them. that's why we created programs which encourage people to take their medications regularly. so join us as we raise a glass to everyone who remembered today. bottoms up, america. see you tomorrow. same time. another innovation from cvs health. because health is everything. this is the equivalent of the and this is one soda a day over an average adult lifetime. but there's a better choice. drink more brita water. clean, refreshing, brita.
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rights investigation. >> yeah, we want you to rally. but rally in peace. make a statement, but make it in peace. >> cycling right now. "i can't breathe." that's the rallying cry again today as protesters prepare a second night of peaceful marches in response to the staten island grand jury's decision not to indict the nypd officer involved in the choke hold death of eric gardner. and as we come on the air today, new demonstrations about to kick off in new york and down in the nation's capital. they are underway in philadelphia. we don't know what specific evidence was presented to jurors, only that they heard from 50 witnesses and saw 60 exhibits. that is far less than we saw from the ferguson grand jury records. but for anyone who has seen that choke hold, it's extremely emotional situation, especially for the gardner family who spoke out to msnbc in the hours after the decision was announced. >> we still have hope and we still have a fight to fight to get this justice for my